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Xinhua's 80-year journey to global stage

11-07-2011 13:54 BJT

BEIJING, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- On Sept. 1, 1944, a radio signal was detected and captured on the western coast of the United States. Datelined "Yan'an, Xinhua," it travelled more than 12,000 km from a small cave in west China.

The message was soon handed to senior officials in Washington, who learned the latest happenings in the war against Japan in China and changed their views on the situation.

By sending its first long-distance English-language radio signal, the Xinhua News Agency successfully made its overseas debut and started to communicate with the outside world.

Sixty-seven years later, a draft of Xinhua's first radio message can be found in the archives of the Federal Communications Commission in Maryland.

At the same time, in the New York Times Square, Xinhua has bought space on a prominent billboard, flanked by ads for Coca-Cola and Samsung. The billboard features a LED sign, 60 feet high by 40 feet wide, that advertises Xinhua's news services to visitors in the square.

The 80-year-old agency has moved from the caves of Yan'an to modern buildings in China's capital, serving up a 24-hour stream of multilingual news and information in a wide variety of forms.

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

Xinhua was founded as the Red China News Agency on Nov. 7, 1931, marking the beginning of a long and arduous journey to international renown.

"Xinhua became a state news agency when the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949. In 1954, just after the Geneva Conference, it was decided to build the agency into an international agency, as requested by the central government," said Yang Yi, former vice president of Xinhua.

Xinhua established its first foreign branch in 1948, in the Czech Republic's capital of Prague. The location was chosen because of its proximity to Europe. Wu Wentao served as one of its first correspondents.

"At that time in China, the war of liberation was in a critical stage, and the Communist Party of China (CPC) had withdrawn from its headquarters in Yan'an, which raised some doubts in east Europe," Wu wrote in his memoir. The international community was very curious about the progress of China's liberation, he wrote.

Wu and his colleagues wrote stories for the party papers of several east European countries, like the Rude Pravo in the Czech Republic, to explain the situation in China at that time.

Following Prague, new branches in London and Pyongyang were established. By 1965, the agency had established 51 overseas branches and employed local correspondents in 32 countries.

Xinhua started to stand on its own feet in covering international events and exerting its influence in the early 1950s, when China emerged on the global stage after the "war to resist U.S. aggression and aid Korea" and a series of international conferences.

In 1954, Xinhua reporters attended the agency's first major international event, the Geneva Conference, during which the world's leading powers gathered to find a way to unify Korea and discuss the possibility of restoring peace in Indo-China.

Xinhua was responsible for covering the event and published commentaries, features and reviews, according to Yang Yi, a reporter who covered the event.

Xinhua's reports were then regarded as a barometer that reflected the stance of the Chinese government, Yang said.

"It was in Geneva that foreign countries started to learn about China. They got interested and wanted to know more. And China got to know the world better as well," he said.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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